Monday, June 13, 2011

Football Uber Alles

Football overshadows absolutely everything in sports crazed America. A friend traveling on business to Dallas from Washington, D.C. remarked at all of the stars carved in to the highway overpass support columns around the city, thinking Dallasites were way over-enamored of the Dallas Cowboys. I had to explain to him that, firstly, Texas is the Lone Star State. The star on the helmet derives at least in part from this historical association. Then I looked around the other teams in the area and found a single star on the Dallas Desperados arena football team and, another single star on the chest of the bull in the FC Dallas logo and, square in between the shoulder blades, still another single star on the jerseys of the Dallas Mavericks. I began to wonder if the Lone Star State association was really at play here or if Jerry Jones had finagled his NFL team's presence in to the very fabric of the other area teams, a constant reminder of which team and sport still ruled on high over North Texas.

Pundits have been counting the Mavericks out since the first round of the playoffs, thinking Portland would pull the same kind of upset the Golden State Warriors did the year before. Or was that in 2007? (I really don't follow basketball.) When the Mavs advanced to meet the Lakers the funeral dirges for Dirk and company rang out from Manhattan to Mazatlan. Uppity Oklahoma thought they could outlast the aging Mavericks with youth but forgot the first lesson in southwestern cattle's usually the old bull that beats the young buck; with brains.

Here comes the heat. It is sometimes hard to tell which phenomenon the signs around Dallas are referring to, the Summer heat or the Miami Heat when they say "Beat the Heat!" but the sentiment is the same. Both need to go away but the question in the back of my mind is who the rest of the country is rooting for. I read the Mike Wise column in the Washington Post who did a polite but effective job of questioning the mind and conviction of LeBron James. Mr. Wise was not exactly rooting for Dallas so much as he was simply perplexed at the fade-away game Mr. James has consistently turned in during the 4th quarter.

Wise was at Game 5 in Dallas last Thursday, a beat writer for the Washington Post, home rag of some of the most ardent football fans in the nation, the ever-loyal, perennially disappointed Redskins Faithful. No fan base in the country despises the Cowboys and essentially everything else about Dallas like fans of the Redskins. But this is basketball and one of their most respected writers is in town covering the remarkable hiding the Mavericks have taken to every opponent thus far, Miami included. Could they, gasp, actually be rooting for a Dallas team?

It might be as simple a question as whether or not they hate the Heat more. LeBron abandoned Cleveland, which garnered negative press around the country. The Wizards and Heat are in the same division with Washington finishing last (hmmm..familiar) but I'm not sure if the two teams have much in the way of a rivalry; the Orlando Magic is in that group. Even if they did, could a Redskin fan in the Fall find it in his heart to root for Dallas during the Summer?

Gotta go (Mavs).

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